US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

Uber CEO: Delivery Has Moved From Luxury To Utility

On August 6, Uber Technologies announced its quarterly earnings results. UberEats remains the bright spot for the company, seeing revenue doubled to $1.2 billion as Americans continue to stay at home despite changes in restaurant and other business operation across various states since April. This is in contrast to the ongoing sharp declines in the company's flagship ride-hailing unit, as fewer riders and drivers in the US returned to the platform despite improvements in other countries where COVID-19 outbreaks are currently more muted.

One thing moving the business ahead was noted by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who said, “The COVID crisis has moved delivery from a luxury to a utility.”

As more people try delivery options, they integrate it into their daily life and choose to retain this convenience even after the time of necessity has past. For instance, before the pandemic, consumers were already getting used to having household goods and other items delivered to their doorstop by Amazon and Walmart. Now, large numbers have become accustomed to having groceries and prepared restaurant meals brought to their home as well.

According to The Freedonia Group’s National Online Consumer Survey conducted in May 2020, 30% of adults note that they are using restaurant delivery more because of the coronavirus pandemic and 51% note that they are using restaurant curbside pick-up options more.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research in the packaging industry, including reports on Retail Bags and Global Foodservice Single-Use Products. Additional information is also available in food and beverage reports available from The Freedonia Group’s sister publisher Packaged Facts, including Food Carryout & Delivery, Food Carryout & Delivery: Special COVID-19 Consumer Insights, Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking & Grocery Shopping in the Age of Coronavirus, and Beverage Market Outlook 2020: Grocery Shopping & PersonalConsumption in the Coronavirus Era. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Services    

COVID-19 Pandemic to Spur Innovation in Home Construction

A recent article highlighted a number of ways that home builders and residential contractors can use technology to speed up construction processes while also working to ensure worker safety. Noting that the US faces a shortage of affordable housing – and a looming shortage of the tradespeople needed to erect these homes – the report indicated that, by increasing the use of factory-built components, builders could achieve the goals of more rapid home construction with less waste and risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Key benefits include:

  • reducing waste at construction sites – factory-built components are made to exact specifications and then shipped to job sites
  • minimizing the time spent by workers at job sites – components are delivered as needed, so workers do not have to deal with delays in the delivery of key materials
  • fewer workers are needed to put together prefabricated components
  • it is easier to practice social distancing at job sites – for instance, while some workers are erecting a roof truss, others can do foundation work in another part of the home

Going forward, it is anticipated that these trends will continue and builders will look for ways to further reduce the amount of time and labor needed at job sites, such as by:

  • using prefabricated concrete products for basements, foundations, and driveways
  • ordering prefabricated exterior and interior wall assemblies that are pre-filled with insulation, electrical conduit, and other needed accessories
  • increasing use of flooring materials that require less time for installation, such as LVT, hardwood, and laminate
  • rising use of push-to-connect plumbing fittings

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


A Potential Upside to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Rising Demand for Decking

A recent article demonstrated that, even as the US economy struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, some industries are seeing sales gains. One winner: the decking market.

While this may seem surprising, adding a deck to a home has always been a popular home improvement project, given its ability to add value and recreational space to a home. Furthermore, as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, interest in adding decks has grown due to:

  • homeowners with time on their hands looking to complete do-it-yourself (DIY) projects – including the installation of a deck
  • people unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions having “staycations”, and often installing a deck to provide additional space for recreation
  • increasing recognition that being outdoors can lessen the risk of spreading coronavirus, encouraging homeowners to add decks for family gatherings

While wood has traditionally accounted for the large majority of decking demand and will continue to do so going forward, composite and plastic lumber decks will see gains in market share, supported by:

  • interest in installing decks made from materials that require less maintenance than natural wood
  • manufacturer efforts to create materials that more closely resemble natural wood lumber
  • consumer interest in composite and plastic lumber decks because of their nonporous surfaces, which inhibit damage from plants and moisture

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including the Wood & Competitive Decking report. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Work-at-Home Employee Coffee Packages: A New Type of Perk

Now more than ever, employees are working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a necessary shift that quickly moved many office workers to work-at-home positions, doubling or even tripling the number of Americans working at home according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the new work-from-home age, some companies are spending money on perks for at-home employees to keep and attract talent. For instance, Firstbase is a company that provides a package of home office supplies (e.g., ergonomic chairs, desks, microphones, laptops, and monitors) that are paid for on a monthly basis by employers for use by their at-home workers. Firstbase has reported a more than 550% jump in the number of companies on its wait list since before March this year. The company reports that clients are opting for customized packages and that a number of them are sending each employee their own coffee machine and a coffee bean subscription.

As more people begin permanently working from home, office coffee service providers will need to change their business models to target this market for continued sales. Subscriptions are a way for employers to deliver perks to their work-at-home employees and retain top talent while enhancing productivity.

Single-serve and personalized coffee options are particularly important to the work-at-home market. Single-serve options are great for remote workers since they might be at home alone or making coffee only for themselves. Giving employees a choice about the types of coffee they receive at home can also be important to ensuring satisfaction.

Although targeting companies for incentive programs that distribute products to remote workers is a logical step, office coffee service providers can also begin offering services directly to consumers, as some coffee vendors already have.

Further analysis of the office coffee service industry, discussion of opportunities, and consumer insights regarding preferences and habits can be found in Packaged Facts’ report Office Coffee Service in the U.S. Packaged Facts also conducts research on other food and beverage topics. Related reports include Consumer and Corporate Food Gifting,Food Carryout & Delivery,Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping, & Food Trends in the Coronavirus Age, Online Grocery Shopping, Meal Kits, Eating Trends: Restaurant Use, and Global Food E-Commerce.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Food & Beverage    

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality Processes – Ventilation & Filtration – in Combating COVID-19

The subtitle in a recently published article in The Atlantic asks an obvious question to the world we find ourselves in today: “How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?” Our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus is still limited, research continues to be done on how the virus spreads, and steps remain to be taken to combat the viruses’ spread.

Research into airborne spread is not finished, leading to uncertainty about what other steps – beyond social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing surfaces – are necessary to increase public safety. Proper ventilation is one area that should be emphasized as a greater area of focus. As The Atlantic article states, there have been more than 1,200 documented super-spreader events, and less 50 of those events occurred outdoors. The two main commonalities between the majority of super-spreader events were crowds and indoor locations. Social distancing is often more difficult to maintain indoors, and studies have shown that respiratory droplets can be transmitted through a building’s HVAC system and infect others even if social distancing measures were being implemented.

Inadequate and nonexistent ventilation in a building can lead to increased infections regardless of the number of people in a space. This is partly why there are currently more coronavirus spread in parts of the South and Southwest part of the US, where summer temperatures drive people inside to the air conditioning. This will become more important in even more of the country as the weather cools and people in most parts of the country cannot spend as much time outdoors.

HEPA filters are the second key tool in the fight against indoor spread of the coronavirus. These filters are important not only in areas that do have sufficient ventilation, but also as additional protection where the weather prohibits opening windows or the building design makes it not possible.

Indoor air quality experts have long been calling for greater emphasis on both ventilation and proper air filtration in building design. Their long-time concerns about poor indoor air quality ranged from the build-up of fumes to off gassing from carpets or other building materials to aggravating pet and dust allergies to spreading illness. The idea of “sick building syndrome” takes on a whole new meaning in the time of a pandemic.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including the Global Filters, Global HVAC Equipment, and HVAC Equipment reports. Freedonia offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.